Breathers United: new voices join call for urgent action on Ontario's lung health crisis


Source: Yahoo

TORONTO, Nov. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - Tomorrow, the Ontario Lung Health Alliance marks World COPD Day (November 14) by inviting every Ontarian who inhales and exhales to join Breathers United - - a campaign to focus attention on lung health and galvanize support for government action to address the province's looming lung health crisis.

Nothing is more important than breathing. Yet there has never been a mass movement to promote and protect the right to breathe easily and cleanly - until now.

"If you breathe, you should care about this issue," said Breathers United member Brenda Cunningham, of Sudbury. "Like most people, I never really thought about breathing - until I couldn't do it any more."

Brenda, who is on daily oxygen to deal with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), joined Breathers United to share her experiences and her can-do approach to dealing with lung disease.

Among other members of Breathers United are lung cancer survivors as well as people living with asthma, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and other lung diseases.

But Breathers United is not just for the one in five Ontarians who live with chronic lung disease and those involved in their care. The Ontario Lung Health Alliance says this is an opportunity for all Ontarians, young and old, in good health and otherwise, to have a say in crucial decisions about lung health policy.

Student Katie Chamilliard and fellow members of her Leadership class at Quinte Secondary School in Belleville not only joined Breathers United, they staffed an information table to sign up other students and splashed the campaign on the school's website.

"Lung health is everyone's concern," said George Habib, President and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association, one of the alliance's 30-plus member organizations. "Lung disease touches every single one of us, either directly or indirectly through its growing impact on our health care budget and our economy."

Even before tomorrow's official launch, more than 1,600 people from all parts of the province had joined the ranks of The Breatherhood - as Breathers United members are known - uploading messages of support and photographs of themselves doing the "lung salute" and signing up for Twitter and Facebook updates. The website provides important lung facts, information about how to "love your lungs" and tools for sharing experiences and opinions with other members of the Breatherhood and with MPPs.

By raising the profile of lung health in Ontario, Breathers United provides grassroots support for the alliance's campaign to secure the provincial government's commitment to an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan.

More than 2.4 million Ontarians are now diagnosed with asthma, lung cancer or COPD with direct and indirect costs totaling almost $4 billion in 2011. By 2041, these numbers are expected to grow to 3.6 million people living with lung disease with a cumulative cost of more than $310 billion.

The Ontario Lung Health Alliance says that a Lung Health Action Plan will save billions in care costs by:

  • Promoting respiratory health;
  • Preventing hundreds of thousands of cases of lung disease;
  • Detecting lung disease earlier;
  • Providing better care and improved quality of life for Ontarians with lung disease;
  • Ensuring that people with lung disease have access to medication, oxygen and other supports;
  • Helping people quit smoking and preventing youths and young adults from starting;
  • Improving indoor and outdoor air quality; and
  • Increasing investments in all areas of lung health research.

The Breathers United campaign is powered by the Ontario Lung Association and other members of the Ontario Lung Health Alliance. Please join the Breatherhood at

About the Ontario Lung Health Alliance

The Ontario Lung Health Alliance brings together organizations and individuals concerned with lung health to provide leadership and a unified voice on policy and programming to address lung disease in Ontario. The alliance's primary goal is to secure government commitment to an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan.

Sample Quotes from Ontario Lung Health Alliance members:

Nurses know that the prevention and management of lung disease is the only way we can help our patients and lower the number of deaths linked to this health epidemic. We call on the government to heed the advice of health care professionals dedicated to cleaner air and better lung health.

Doris Grinspun, CEO, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario


Ontarians should be aware that of the four chronic diseases responsible for eight in 10 deaths in Ontario - cancers, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and diabetes - only lung disease is without a government-led dedicated, coordinated effort to determine prevention and treatment strategies that minimize the health and economic burden.

Jan Kasperski, CEO, Ontario College of Family Physicians


For people living with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, also known as hereditary COPD, there is a specific, evidence-based solution that would improve health outcomes and reduce lifetime care costs. That is one reason why the government must move quickly to develop a detailed, comprehensive plan to address lung health in Ontario.

Jim Mundy, Executive Director, Alpha-1 Canada


We cannot escape the fact that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and illness in Ontario. Increasing the budget for programs to help smokers quit will pay immediate and substantial dividends in improved lung health and lower care costs

Jane Ling, President and Chair, Central East Association for Smoking Elimination


Respiratory illness can range from being initially without symptoms to literally taking your breath away. Proactive approaches can help to prevent respiratory illness and appropriate management can improve our quality of life. There is so much that we can do together; hopefully we can reach all Canadians, at risk or in need, to do so.

Dr.  Alan Kaplan, Chair, Family Physician Airways Group of Canada

Ontario Lung Health Alliance membership:

Alpha-1 Canada
Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario
Asthma Society of Canada
Boehringer Ingelheim
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Canadian Association for Rare Disorders
Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
Central East Association for Smoking Elimination
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
COPD Canada
Eli Lilly
Johnson & Johnson
Lung Cancer Canada
Lung Disease Support Group Inc.
National Asthma Patient Alliance (NAPA)
National Lung Health Framework
Ontario College of Family Physicians
Ontario Home Respiratory Services Association
Ontario Lung Association
Ontario Medical Association
Ontario Pharmacists' Association
Ontario Physical and Health Education Association
Ontario Respiratory Care Society
Ontario Thoracic Society
Primary Care Asthma Program
Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
Respiratory Therapy Society of Ontario

SOURCE: The Lung Association


John Chenery
Ontario Lung Association
416-864-9911 ext. 292 | Cell: 647-293-9911

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